September 14, 2009

Review: Things Worth Remembering

Things Worth Remembering
by Jackina Stark

At the beginning of the year I read and reviewed the premiere novel of author Jackina Stark, Tender Grace(which you can find here), which I had snagged through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program. I found the book a refreshing and soft-spoken book about a christian woman recovering from the loss of her husband. I was glad then to snag this author's second book from Library Thing. I hoped this one would be just as nice. I was left with somewhat the same reaction but tinged with disappointment.

Kendy Laswell is the loving, almost idyllic, mother to Maisey, a college student. Maisey is to be married at the end of the week. But there has been a tension between mother and daughter for many years. Kendy doesn't understand why Maisey seems to hate her so much. As the wedding date inches closer, Kendy and Maisey are forced to confront each other and their personal demons and learn to forgive.

One of the things that I liked about Stark's first novel was that the christian perspective was handled with a light touch, coming naturally with the main character without being preachy or overbearing. This book had a stronger thread through it as the daughter is reminded of how a christian ought to graciously forgive. While Tender Grace could be read by a person of any faith without discomfort I can't say the same thing for Things Worth Remembering. This is not a bad thing rather something to take note of.

There is a tendency to make the characters too perfect, except for the obvious flaws that the book is addressing. It was almost believable in the first book but it is not in this one. There is also a tendency to fit the people into "the real world" by adding in references to, say, Pottery Barn, Pier 1 and other such trendiness that I found tedious. I think that the story could have been fleshed out better and made more believable if given more attention. These complaints are not huge but they niggled at me.

My one big complaint was that I did not like Maisey. She is a spoiled brat who takes advantage of her parents with a sense of entitlement. Eventually you come to understand why she is so angry but the resolution comes too close to the end for you to build any kind of positive sentiment. There really should have been a recovery time for a relationship that was in such ruins.

That being said I would read more by Jackina Stark. Her writing is clear and her subject matters are addressed in a way that christians can appreciate. And, because I have to appease my superficial side occasionally, I once again love the cover art and title.

One word review:


Jenny said...

Maybe I watch too much TV and it's a carry-over from that, but I hate it when books use real-world shops and products too much. I know when it's a book, it isn't product placement like on TV, but still it feels like a plug.

Zibilee said...

I don't mind reading christian books at all, but I don't really like when the messages are done with a heavy hand and they overshadow the plot too much. It sounds as though this book might be on the edge in this respect, so I am not sure if I would read it. I also am not sure if I could deal with the underdevelopment of the story and characters, but I really liked your review. It was very thoughtful and lucid.

Petunia said...

Jenny-It's unnecessary and didn't further the story. I mean if the story had something take place in a Starbucks and it was supposed to have a secret meaning then okay, but taking about decorating the house with Pottery Barn? Just dumb.

Zibilee-I'm not sure I'd call it heavy handed. It was written for christians and meant to be an encouragement to keep walking the walk. The "things worth remembering" was a speech given to the daughter by her father about remembering who she is and how that should affect her heart. I liked that part.